Editor's Letter - Why You Should Invest in a Charity

In 10 years in the Palm Springs area, I have served on several nonprofit boards — some more robust and sophisticated than others. And even before the economy crashed in 2008, talk at many meetings focused on how to overcome an aging donor base and grow a fresh crop of givers.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Americans give more to philanthropic causes — about 2 perpent of the nation’s GDP — than citizens of any other nation.

But as nonprofits add services for constituencies displaced by cash-strapped public and private institutions, our level of giving still falls short of what we need to educate, heal, and enlighten.

Around the boardroom table, we commit to leveraging our professional skills and personal relationships and talk about how to run our charitable organizations like businesses. That’s fine if you’re talking about professionalizing operations, but let’s face it: Our companies, generous as they might be in the community, operate for profit.

Philanthropy needs a game change: Turn our obsession for trimming administrative salaries and operating costs to investing in problem solving. Progress takes time and money; and although we must watch every dollar, it’s no time to hold back funds from where they’re most needed.

If we expect nonprofit organizations to properly serve our community, they must have resources to hire dynamic leaders, promote their missions, market their programs, deliver quality services, and celebrate successes.

Smart investment and management leads to brand visibility, community awareness, and increased revenue.

A new study from The Chronicle of Philanthropy reveals:

• The rich aren’t the most generous. Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich.
• Tax incentives matter. State policies that promote giving make a significant difference.
• Religion influences giving. Regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not.
• California gives the most, but ranks No. 25 among all states in percentage of discretionary income donated.

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